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SAG-aftra Election Ending Bitterly With 2000 Strike Still in Dispute

1 hour ago

Voting is ending for a particularly acrimonious SAG-aftra presidential election with results due to be announced as early as Thursday afternoon.

The counting of the ballots, with about a quarter of the 144,000 dues-current members expected to vote, will begin at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday.

The contest has featured accusations of election fraud and bungling the recent contract negotiations (made by Esai Morales and Membership First); negligence on safety issues and allowing massive staff salaries (made by independent stuntman Pete Antico); and Membership First’s alleged incompetence in the 2008 negotiations and its long opposition to the SAG-aftra merger (made by the Unite for Strength faction headed by current president Gabrielle Carteris).

The divisions within SAG-aftra run deep and have existed for the past two decades. Remarkably, the two main factions — the moderate-leaning Unite for Strength and the self-styled progressives of Membership First — have managed to revive the debate over the six-month commercials strike in 2000. Supporters of the »


- Dave McNary

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Joker Origin Film in the Works With ‘Hangover’ Director Todd Phillips

3 hours ago

The Joker may be getting his own origin tale.

Sources tell Variety that “War Dogs” and “The Hangover” director Todd Phillips is in talks to co-write and direct an untitled movie centered on the origins of the most iconic Batman villain, the Joker.

Martin Scorsese is in talks to have some sort of role on the film, but it’s currently unknown what that role would be.

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Ranking the Jokers From Worst to Best

This yet-to-be announced new banner under DC Comics would give the studio the opportunity to expand the canon with unique story angles that aren’t included in its current cinematic universe.

Scott Silver will join Phillips as a co-writer on the film, which will delve into what it took for the Joker to become to be a mastermind criminal. Sources say the story will take place in the ’80s and have more of the look of a gritty crime drama than comic »


- Justin Kroll

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Premium VOD Paralysis Reflects Poorly on Studios, Exhibitors (Analysis)

6 hours ago

It’s been a rough summer for the movie business. Box office for the season is down by double digits versus last year, and by single digits year-to-date. Exhibition stocks are getting hammered. And some analysts believe the third quarter of the year could be just as woeful.

Which makes recent reports suggesting the major studios are considering striking a deal to launch a premium VOD window with Apple and Comcast as soon as two weeks after titles begin their theatrical run entirely understandable.

The studios and exhibitors have been bogged down in negotiations that seem to have intensified in recent months, yet go back seven years without resolution. Yes, this is a complex situation, but it’s not the Middle East peace process, either. It’s well past time a deal got done for the sake of both of their struggling businesses.

Instead, we have this absurd new two-week proposal being floated, which »


- Andrew Wallenstein

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‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff: Michael K. Williams Role Cut Following Reshoots

7 hours ago

While the “Star Wars” Han Solo film may be back on track, not everything could be saved in reshoots.

Sources tell Variety Michael K. Williams’ character has been cut from the film, due to his commitment to “The Red Sea Diving Resort.” He booked the biographic drama after he had finished filming Han Solo, and was unable to return to reshoot any new material for the film.

Reshoots began in June after Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were let go and replaced by Ron Howard, and they are expected to run into the fall. Williams’ role in “The Red Sea Diving Resort,” which also stars Chris Evans, is significant and made it impossible for him to balance the schedules of both shoots.

Related

Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff: Lord & Miller Fired After Clashing With Kathleen Kennedy (Exclusive)

Plot details for the spinoff are unknown, but Williams did tell Deadline Hollywood, which first reported the news, »


- Justin Kroll

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‘Heartstone,’ ‘Sami Blood’ Among 2017 Nordic Council Film Prize Contenders

8 hours ago

Haugesund, Norway — Icelandic director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson first feature “Heartstone” (“Hjartasteinn,” pictured) and Swedish director Amanda Kernell’s “Sámi Blood” (“Sameblod”) are among the nominees for the Nordic Council Film Prize, the prestigious Dkk 350,000 ($55,000) Nordic film award which will find its owner on Nov. 1 during the Council’s session in Helsinki, Finland.

Their competitors are Danish director Christian Tafdrup’s “Parents” (“Forældre”), Finnish director Selma Vilhunen’s “Little Wing” (“Tyttö nimeltä Varpu”) and Norwegian director Izer Aliu’s “Hunting Flies” (“Fluefangeren”), the Nordisk Film & TV Fond announced Tuesday night at the opening of the New Nordic Films market at the 45th Norwegian Intl. Film Festival at Haugesund.

Scripted by Guðmundsson, and produced by Anton Máni Svansson, Lise Orheim Stender, Jesper Morthorst and Guðmundsson, “Heartstone” is set in a small, remote Icelandic fishing village and follows two teenage boys, Þór and Kristján, who are close friends – one is trying to win the heart of a girl, while »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Industry Leaders, New York Legislators Urge Governor to Sign Diversity Tax Credit Bill

8 hours ago

Leaders of New York’s film and TV production community and local legislators called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the TV diversity tax credit bill that would earmark $5 million in state incentives in an effort to open doors for more women and people of color as writers and directors.

Robin Thede, creator and host of Bet’s upcoming “The Rundown with Robin Thede” and “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon were on hand for the news conference in Manhattan. Thede, Willimon and others made the case for implementing the tax credit to help spur more diverse hiring practices throughout the industry.

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New York Legislators Approve Groundbreaking TV Diversity Tax Credit

“I am this bill,” Thede said. “I am living proof that something like this would be beneficial for many people.”

Thede ranks as the first and only woman of color to head the writers room of a late-night TV series, from »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Deauville Film Festival Unveils Lineup, Doug Liman’s ‘American Made’ Set to Open Festival

9 hours ago

Doug Liman’s “American Made,” an action-packed biopic headlined by Tom Cruise, is set to open the 43rd edition of Deauville American Film Festival.

David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story,” Chloé Zhao’s “The Rider” and Marc Webb’s “Mary” are among the 14 films on track to compete at the festival.

A Ghost Story,” a supernatural drama which reunites Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara after Lowery’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” premiered at Sundance.

The Rider,” which world premiered at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight and nabbed the Art Cinema Award, centers on a young cowboy who embarks on a road trip across America after suffering a near fatal head injury.

“Mary” stars a Chris Evans as a single man raising his child prodigy niece who is drawn into a custody battle with his mother.

Several competition films deal with race relations in America. Daryl Wein’s “Blueprint,” for instance, centers around a young Black man in South »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Remembering Jerry Lewis, the World’s First Rock Star of Imbecility

9 hours ago

Jerry Lewis, who died last week at 91, was hardly the first comedian to make people laugh by acting transcendently idiotic. The Marx Brothers took hilarious head-spinning dives into the outer limits of surreal silliness. So did Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello and the Three Stooges. But Jerry Lewis was the world’s first rock star of imbecility.

If you watch one of his comedy routines with Dean Martin from the ’40s and ’50s, you see something amazing. Martin, brandishing his sleepy-eyed cocktail-lounge machismo, was the straight man, and Lewis, flitting and prancing around him, was a one-man circus of slapstick brain damage — he jumped on people, he brayed out words in a mincing baby voice, he crossed his eyes and giggled at his own jokes, and every so often he slipped in a crack so smart that it let you know everything he was doing was a put-on. Yet it was Martin, the »


- Owen Gleiberman

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Andy Serkis’ ‘Breathe’ Joins 2017 Hamptons Film Festival Slate

10 hours ago

Breathe,” the film directed by Andy Serkis that will premiere next month at the Toronto Film Festival, has been named a centerpiece film at the 2017 Hamptons International Film Festival, which has also announced an initial batch of titles on the slate including Alexandre Moors’ “The Yellow Birds” with Toni Collette and Jennifer Aniston and Vincent Gagliostro’s “After Louie,” starring Alan Cumming.

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Variety Announces 10 Actors to Watch for 2017

Serkis’ directorial debut “Breathe,” which will screen in East Hampton as the Sunday Centerpiece of the festival, stars Andrew Garfield and Clarie Foy in a story about a man and his wife who defy the medical establishment in order to live life to the fullest after Garfield’s character contracts polio at age 28. Serkis is on tap to attend the festival.

Also joining Hiff’s 25th anniversary lineup is “Lbj,” starring Woody Harrelson as the titular president and directed by Rob Reiner, who »


- Variety Staff

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Morgan Freeman to Receive SAG Life Achievement Award

10 hours ago

Morgan Freeman has been named the 54th recipient of the SAG Life Achievement award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment.

Freeman will be presented the accolade at the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 21 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The award is given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession.”

Freeman has won a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Academy Award, HFPA’s Cecil B. DeMille Award, an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, seven Image Awards, a Silver Berlin Bear and a Kennedy Center Honor. SAG-aftra made the announcement Tuesday.

“I am thrilled to announce Morgan Freeman as this year’s recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award,” said SAG-aftra President Gabrielle Carteris. “Some actors spend their entire careers waiting for the perfect role. Morgan showed us that true perfection is what a performer brings to the part. He is innovative, fearless »


- Dave McNary

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First Look: Christian Bale Is a Cavalry Captain in Scott Cooper’s ‘Hostiles’

10 hours ago

Le Grisbi Productions and Waypoint Entertainment have released the first image from Scott Cooper’s upcoming western “Hostiles,” which is set for an international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

The film, set in 1892, stars Christian Bale as a legendary Army Captain who, after stern resistance, agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back home to tribal lands. The perilous journey takes Bale and his detail from New Mexico to the grasslands of Montana. Along the way they pick up a young widow (Rosamund Pike), whose family has been murdered on the plains by hostile Comanche natives. Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, Ben Foster, Jonathan Majors and Timothee Chalamet also star.

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Scott Cooper’s ‘Hostiles’ Finds New Frontiers Outside the Studio System

Cooper’s last film, “Black Mass” — starring Johnny Depp as Boston gangster Whitey Bulger — also played the Toronto film festival. He »


- Variety Staff

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Film News Roundup: Michael Watson Boxing Drama Casts Louis Cordice, Jared Harris (Exclusive)

11 hours ago

In today’s film news roundup, boxing drama “Michael” gets its leads, Common joins ‘The Hate U Give,”  3D documentary “Cuba” gets a release date and the Austin Film Festival unveils its first wave of titles. 

Castings

Louis Cordice and Jared Harris have joined the cast of Magnificent Films’ upcoming boxing drama “Michael,” based on the story of Michael Watson, Variety has learned exclusively.

Cordice, who appeared in the final three “Harry Potter” movies, will be playing the title character and Harris will portray neurosurgeon Peter Hamlyn. Watson suffered a near-fatal injury during a loss to Chris Eubank for the World Boxing Organization super-middleweight title in 1991.

The film will also highlight the changes that resulted in ringside medical care as a result of Watson’s injuries, his court battle with the British Board of Boxing Control, his triumph over adversity, and journey to run the London Marathon.

Harris recently received a BAFTA nomination for his portrayal of »


- Dave McNary

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Angelina Jolie, Javier Bardem, Helen Mirren Leading Talks at Toronto Film Festival

12 hours ago

Javier Bardem, Gael García Bernal, Angelina Jolie and Helen Mirren will headline a series of public conversations about their careers as part of this year’s Toronto Film Festival.

Many of these actors and filmmakers aren’t just trekking to Canada to take a jaunt down memory lane. They’re also on hand to launch new films. Bardem stars in “mother!,” Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming horror film, and “Loving Pablo,” both of which will debut at the festival. Jolie is bringing “First They Killed My Father,” a drama about the Cambodian genocide that she made for Netflix, to the gathering. Mirren is appearing opposite Donald Sutherland in “The Leisure Seeker,” another festival entry. And Bernal will be seen in “If You Saw His Heart,” which will screen at the event.

In addition, the festival also unveiled its 2017 Discovery program lineup. It boasts 45 first and second

feature films by up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world. The »


- Brent Lang

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Lionsgate Promotes Kerry Phelan to President of Global Franchise Management

13 hours ago

On the heels of announcing a massive South Korean theme park, Lionsgate has promoted marketing veteran Kerry Phelan to the newly created post of president of global franchise management.

Tim Palen, the studio’s chief brand officer and president of worldwide marketing, made the announcement Tuesday. Phelan, who has been an exec VP of global franchise management and strategic partnerships, reports to Palen.

Lionsgate said that since Phelan came on board in 2014, she has helped leverage the company’s portfolio of film and television properties across multiple platforms and created significant new incremental business for the studio.

Film properties including “The Hunger Games,” “Twilight,” and “Now You See Me” franchises are being exploited at the Lionsgate Movie World outdoor theme park in Korea, the Lionsgate Entertainment World indoor theme park currently in development in China, and multiple indoor Lionsgate Entertainment City centers planned for high-traffic consumer destinations in the U.S. »


- Dave McNary

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Sanfic: Alicia Scherson Adapts Roberto Bolaño’s ‘Third Reich’ in ‘1989’ (Exclusive)

13 hours ago

Santiago De Chile — Teaming up with producer Isabel Orellana at Araucaria Cine (“Nunca vas a estar solo”), Alicia Scherson (“Family Life,” “Il Futuro”) is tackling the world of men for the first time in her second adaptation of a Roberto Bolaño novel after “Il Futuro,” her 2013 screen adaptation of the Chilean novelist’s “Una Novelita Lumpen.”

“Most of my films have displayed a more female perspective; it was a challenge to immerse myself in the world of a male, one obsessed with war games, to boot,” said Scherson.

After struggling with the script for a year, changing the original setting from Spain in Bolaño’s novel “The Third Reich” to Chile made all its disparate elements fall into place.

Scherson’s “1989” takes place in Chile during a time of transition after military dictator Augusto Pinochet has stepped down but before a democratic government has established itself.

“It’s a time of great uncertainty, the »


- Anna Marie de la Fuente

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San Sebastian: Features by Rory Kennedy, Jennifer Peedom Play Savage Cinema

13 hours ago

Madrid  —  “Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton,” by Oscar-nominated docu filmmaker Rory Kennedy (“Last Days in Vietnam”) and Australian Jennifer Peedom’s documentary “Mountain” figure among the six titles playing at San Sebastian Festival’s 5th Savage Cinema sidebar.

A pioneering initiative to profile many of the year’s best action sports/adventure productions at an A-grade festival, Savage Cinema was launched in 2013 by San Sebastian, in partnership with Red Bull Media House. During the upcoming 65th San Sebastian edition, Savage Cinema will focus on the exceptional lives of surfers Laird Hamilton and Kai Lenny, the discovery of Desert Point, and the fascination of climbing summits.

In “Take Every Wave,” Kennedy, who also won an Emmy Award in 2007 with “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib,” tells the story of the iconic American athlete Laird Hamilton, who changed the sport of big wave surfing forever. Transcending the surf genre, the docu marks an in-depth portrait of a hard-charging »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Asghar Farhadi Begins Filming ‘Everybody Knows’ With Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz in Spain

15 hours ago

Asghar Farhadi, the Oscar-winning Iranian director of “A Separation” and “The Salesman,” has kicked off principal photography on “Everybody Knows” (“Todos Lo Saben”), his psychological thriller starring Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Ricardo Darin.

Budgeted at 10 million euros ($11.8 million), the Spanish-language film is being produced by Alexandre Mallet-Guy at Paris-based Memento Films Production and Alvaro Longoria at Spanish outfit Morena Films.

Written by Farhadi, “Everybody Knows” follows the journey of Carolina as she travels with her family from Buenos Aires to her hometown in Spain for a celebration. Meant to be a brief visit, the trip is disturbed by unforeseen events that will completely change the lives of Carolina and her family. »


- Elsa Keslassy

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‘Dunkirk’ Helps Push U.K. Cinema Admissions Past 100 Million by End of July

15 hours ago

Christopher Nolan’s depiction of the events at “Dunkirk” has helped rescue the U.K. box office in 2017 after a mid-year slump. A strong July performance, boosted by “Dunkirk’s” July 21 opening, has taken British cinema admissions for the year to more than 100 million – the first time since 2010 that that number has been exceeded after the first seven months of the year.

Overall U.K. cinema admissions reached 102 million by the end of July, a 6.6% rise compared to the same period in 2016 and the best performance since 2009, when 103.5 million ticket were sold in the same period.

At the end of July, “Dunkirk” had already earned £28.4 million ($37 million) at the U.K. box office, ranking eighth among all titles for the year despite only being on release for 11 days, according to comScore. Admissions for individual titles are not available in the U.K.

Nolan’s spectacular war film has since gone on to surpass “Despicable Me 3,” July »


- Robert Mitchell

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Norwegian Director Mikkel Brænne Sandemose’s ‘The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King’ – First of a Movie Trilogy (Exclusive)

15 hours ago

Norwegian director Mikkel Brænne Sandemose, whose latest feature, 2013’s “Ragnarok,” received two Amandas, Norway’s national film prize, will open “The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King” (“Askeladden – i Dovregubbens hall”) in Norwegian cinemas on Sept. 29 as the first of a trilogy about the Norwegian national hero.

Credited with such titles as Norwegian director Petter Næss’ 2001 “Elling,” more recently Rasmus A Sivertsen’s “The Christmas of Louis and Luca” and Arild Fröhlich’s “Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder” (2014), will invest $22 million in the three features about the fictional Norwegian character.

A family picture, “The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King,” is co-produced by the Czech Republic’s Sirene Film and Ireland’s Subotica Entertainment on a $7 million budget.

“Obviously we are not only targeting Norwegian cinema-goers, but also international audiences,” said Maipo producer-ceo Synnøve Hørsdal, who decided on a new trilogy after the “Louis & Luca” series was picked up worldwide, mainly »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Haugesund: Norway’s Thomas Aske Berg on His Pioneering ‘Vidar the Vampire’

16 hours ago

Haugesund, Norway — Norwegian actor-writer-composer-director-producer Thomas Aske Berg’s feature debut “Vidar the Vampire” (“VampyrVidar”) is most probably the least expensive entry in the main program at the Norwegian Intl. Film Festival in Haugesund- It was produced without public support, on a Nok 500,000 ($54,000) budget, “from heritage, savings, mum and dad investments and endless hours of free work from the UFOh! production crew,” Aske Berg explained.

But Aske Berg had another challenge: “My dream was to star in a vampire movie – I have always been fascinated by the vampire genre; the problem is they hardly exist in Norway, so [I had to ] make the film myself,” he said.

Then came the question of content and style: How can you achieve a fairly fresh and original approach with the plethora of vampire movies out there?

“”Vidar the Vampire” is primarily a naturalistic comedy with horror elements, where the main character is in a surreal fantasy universe. It »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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